Former dropout wins medal

May 30, 2002, vol. 24, no. 3
By Julie Ovenell-Carter

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At 37, Diane Jules stuck courage to the sticking post and went back to school - high school.

Jules, a member of the Skeetchestn First Nation near Kamloops and a Grade 8 dropout, was tired of “heading for the hills in embarrassment whenever the subject of education came up.”

After earning her Grade 12 diploma in 1996 - still one of her proudest moments - she kept right on going. This month, in addition to a bachelor of arts degree in sociology and anthropology, Jules will receive the dean's medal for academic achievement in the Secwepemc Cultural Education Society (SCES)/SFU joint program in Kamloops.

Jules, a single mother, says her two young sons, Jake, four, and Nolan, one, helped rather than hindered her educational goals.

“They're what tied me down and got me working. They gave me the focus I needed to get through. I want them to see their mom wearing the cap and gown. I want them to be able to put aside the stereotypical image of First Nations people that will confront them as they're growing up. I'm setting an example for them.”

The SCES/SFU campus is “so important in the community,” says Jules. “I can't stress how accessible it is to mature students - especially aboriginal students. It's too bad the portables are in such poor shape. It needs a better facility. It's important the funding is there to back up such an excellent program.”

Jules is already enrolled at SCES/SFU in a post-baccalaureate linguistic program focusing on the Secwepemc (Shuswap) language.

She is considering becoming a teacher, and would ideally like to teach at the college level.

“It's been a wonderful combination, motherhood and education. I'm a completely different person. I would tell anyone who was thinking of going back to school: no matter how scared you are, just do it. You'll never regret it.”

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